MWay Comms and Highways Passport

"It's Transformative"

A conversation with Ryan McClean

MWay Comms were among the very first to win Highways Passport Silver. We arranged an interview to learn more about how theyuse the system.

Ryan, could you tell us about yourself and your role?

I am the health safety, wellbeing and environmental manager at MWay Comms. I joined back in 2016, so have been here for five and a half years. I look after anything and everything that falls into those categories of health, safety and wellbeing – which is why I manage Passport.

Could you tell us more about MWay Comms?

MWay Comms has been up and running for 21 years, and they work within the technology arena of the highways industry. We install the comms infrastructure that goes into roads – all the cabling, electrics and technology. This can include signals, loops and aspects of civils as well. It’s a busy part of the industry these days – there’s plenty of work about!

We have a lot of work going on around the country, such as in the east AD (Area 6 and 8), M1 J13-16 SMP, Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) and PRS with the SMA. We’re also doing all sorts of work such as traffic signals, loops and electrical installs. Recently we’ve been involved in the east with Area 6, 8 and 9 as well as the smart motorway project on the M1. We’ve also been involved in the A47 Galliford Try project at Guyhirn Junction.

What’s your experience of Passport?

We started using Passport in its first rollout a few years ago. It was brand new, and everyone was singing and dancing about it - we took it upon ourselves to go all-in for it. I became the admin; I did the training, I did the qualifications with LANTRA to do the common inductions – I trained everyone in the company. Shortly after, it sort of died down a bit. But then, last spring I caught wind of more and more projects and organisations wanting Passport and requiring it again.

Then on a project by-project basis, we re-upskilled all our employees on the new common induction.

It quickly got traction internally; now everyone has it. I approached the managers in the organisation, and I said, “Passport’s getting big. We’re going to start needing it. Rather than react, let’s get ahead and get it done.” We got everyone to do the HCI, ordered the cards and got started. I even put together a video for supervisors. I put it together as a guide for our guys, that way, they can see exactly what we need them to do. I wanted to be able to talk my way through it – I wouldn’t be able to sit down with all of them as we’re so national. But I wanted to get my words across to them, so they know what’s important to us.

I’m glad we got ahead because Passport’s reached the tipping point. This recent phase has so much traction and weight behind it. There’s been a huge change in the presentation, the delivery, the comms – now everyone’s buying into it. From this point forward, we’ll use it.I don’t think we’ll ever go back. That’s it now; it’s in it’s ready, it’s going.

It’s been great to see that Passport is now a big part of all our conversations with different contractors. It’s on the tip of everybody’s tongue.That’s why I wanted to get ahead – at Mway, if we’re in, we’re all in.

What do you think of the scheme?

It’s transformative.

Bear in mind my role is health and safety; the best feature for me is the easy access to view competency. You can check worker competency in a heartbeat to see if they’re competent to do it. Otherwise, you have to go back to your laptop and check they’re trained. It’s easy to use, which means everyone knows how it works, so they get everything they need from it. They understand it, which means we can get the most from it. If I want to scan a card to check a competency, it takes seconds.

It’s effortless.

The sooner the entire supply chain starts using it, the better.

The Highways Common Induction is very cost-effective and time-efficient. It covers the basics that are required within a good amount of time and it’s video, so it’s flexible and accessible. We have guys without laptops who have been able to do it from wherever they are on theirphones.

I hope more and more contractors start reducing their site and project-specific inductions to match. I won’t name contractors, but some do have very lengthy inductions! It’s really inefficient for them.

How do you use the system?

Our entire workforce is on Passport, and we are swiping in and out on projects we manage.

We use the app itself. All supervisors have the app on their phones, and they scan people in as part of their start of shift process and then scan them out again at the end of shift. 

They also use it for competency checks. We use virtual cards; we’ve set everyone up with one on their Vircarda app. I was recently on a site with Galliford Try, and we all had our cards scanned. Our operatives tend to use their virtual cards for scans instead now.

In the system, I’m seeing that lots of our worker’s cards have been scanned by other contractors. We also get a lot of positive feedback about the way we’ve managed competency for our workers.

The next area we’re looking to implement is fatigue and briefings, so we can maximise the value we get from the system. I’d also like to see medicals on the system. All we need to see is that someone has their medical and that they can work. If they have a risk assessment,we’d want that to be shown.

We do know of situations where workers have risk assessments for things like working alone or working at heights. There are less confidential pieces of information the system can share without people being nosy.

MWay Comms recently won Passport Silver. What’s been the internal reaction to that?

We’re incredibly proud we got it at Mway. We think it’s great. It’s giving us an advantage when we’re going for business. It’s straight on tenders, and it’s always asked about it.

To me, this is the kind of thing that makes this part of Passport’s implementation so different. It shows to all the contractors that aren’t usingit that it’s worth it and it’s now being recognised, and it shows how much National Highways care – it shows this really matters. It also is a great reward for organisations like ours who have done the work.